Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - Rhythma Kaul let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

NEW DELHI : The gov­ern­ment has gazette no­ti­fied guide­lines to prac­tice telemedici­ne in In­dia.

Ex­perts said the re­lease of guide­lines that aim to pro­tect both pa­tients and prac­ti­tion­ers got ex­pe­dited ow­ing to re­stric­tions un­der the on­go­ing na­tional lock­down to con­tain the Covid-19 pan­demic. Telemedici­ne en­sures pa­tient’s as well as health work­ers’ safety, ex­perts said.

The Board of Gov­er­nors in su­per­s­es­sion of the Med­i­cal Coun­cil of In­dia (MCI), has been work­ing on the guide­lines amended the In­dian Med­i­cal Coun­cil (Pro­fes­sional Con­duct, Eti­quette and Ethics) Reg­u­la­tions, 2002, to in­clude telemedici­ne con­sul­ta­tion. How­ever, the guide­lines pro­hibit use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to con­duct sur­gi­cal or in­va­sive pro­ce­dures re­motely.

“We had al­ready put in six months of work into the guide­lines and, when the coro­n­avirus pan­demic hap­pened, we ex­pe­dited it” Dr Nikhil Tan­don, head, depart­ment of en­docrinol­ogy, All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences, had said. Dr Tan­don is a mem­ber of the Board of Gov­er­nors, MCI.

“Dis­as­ters and pan­demics pose unique chal­lenges to pro­vid­ing health care. Though telemedici­ne will not solve them all, it is well suited for sce­nar­ios in which med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers can eval­u­ate and man­age pa­tient. Telemedici­ne prac­tice can pre­vent the trans­mis­sion of in­fec­tious dis­eases re­duc­ing the risks to both health care work­ers and pa­tients,” the guide­lines say.

Telemedici­ne ser­vices can­not be used for pro­vid­ing emer­gency care when in-per­son care is avail­able. It should largely be lim­ited to life-sav­ing mea­sure, coun­selling and ad­vice on re­fer­ral.

“The for­mal no­ti­fi­ca­tion will help us scale up and reach out to a larger pop­u­la­tion base,” says Dr Anu­pam Sibal, group med­i­cal di­rec­tor, Apollo Hos­pi­tals.

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